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Death Comes to Pemberley [Hardcover]

P. D. James
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (728 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
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Book Description

3 Nov 2011

The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth's beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, the guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley's wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham - Elizabeth's younger, unreliable sister - stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered.

Inspired by a lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen, PD James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story. Death Comes to Pemberley is a distinguished work of fiction, from one of the best-loved, most- read writers of our time.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st edition (3 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571283578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571283576
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (728 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

P. D. James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of the Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of its Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London.

She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award. She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors.

She lives in London and Oxford and has two daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Product Description


'As might be expected from a celebrated crime novelist, her follow-on to Pride and Prejudice introduces a detective story into Austen's world; but without any tremor of incongruity. An acute admirer of Austen's novels (which, her autobiography makes clear, she has been re-reading for more than 80 years), she keeps her sequel close to their ironic spiritedness, moral toughness and psychological finesse ... brimming with astute appreciation, inventiveness and narrative zest, Death Comes to Pemberley is an elegantly gauged homage to Austen and an exhilarating tribute to the inexhaustible vitality of James's imagination.' --Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

'P. D. James has the advantage in having both the skill and the intelligence to hold her own in Austen's company. Her charmingly conceived murder mystery unfolds like a big soft comfort blanket just in time for the nights drawing in: the nation's best-loved crime writer and best-known romance in a magic meld, with Downtony moments below stairs, spooky moonlit bits and some police procedural thrown in for good measure ... James takes Pride and Prejudice to places it never dreamed of, and does so with a charm that will beguile even the most demanding Janeite.' --Claire Harman, Evening Standard

The story is accomplished and witty, naturally, but to see James s sensibility at work on the character of Jane Austen is a wonderful treat. I find the merging of these two women of literature from such different ages to be totally intriguing. --Melvyn Bragg, New Statesman >>
A tribute to Jane Austen and a sheer delight. A book to banish Boxing Day blues. --Allan Massie, Spectator

Book Description

P. D. James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful 22 Jan 2012
By DavidMc
There is no point in repeating all the adverse comments made by previous reviewers. I love the works of Jane Austen and am an avid reader of James's detective novels. I will simply say that this is awful what where the publishers thinking of besides trading on two distinguished authors' names.
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150 of 162 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sad 6 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Should one's admiration and respect for a highly successful author lead one to turn a blind eye to a disaster (cf Agatha Christie's Postern Gate)? Surely not, since if these Amazon reviews have any purpose, it is surely to offer advice to would-be purchasers.
In this case my advice is clear: don't!
Re-read 'Cover Her Face' instead.
To write a thriller in the style of Jane Austen is about as useful an enterprise as telling the story of the Eurozone troubles in the style of Beatrix Potter. But knowing and enjoying PD James' earliest books, and sharing her love of Austen, I was very hopeful. As it happens, PD James abandons Austen-speak immediately after the Prologue and never recovers it, illustrating perhaps the imperishable brilliance of the original.
The result is a very dull and predictable story of detection with white soup and crinolines, hamstrung by the presence of so many characters above suspicion: the murderer therefore being signposted from early on.
I kept hoping for the appearance of some passing Lakeland poet, one Master Ebenezer Dalgliesh, to rattle the Pemberley shades. No such luck. It made me sad.
I can see from the Publishers' point of view that when a fine and profitable author sets off on an unexpected route, they may have little choice other than to follow and try to make it work. But in that case, why no proper copy-editing, which would have removed the several absurd repetitions and, for example, the strange situation on p81 when Darcy is placed in 2 separate parts of the house - at the same time?
The interpolation of characters from Emma and Persuasion was particularly ill-judged.
Let's hope we may escape 'The Massacre at Mansfield Park'.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably disappointing 6 Mar 2012
I am sorry this has been my introduction to PD James, an author I have heard highly spoken of. I rarely write reviews, but felt I had to put this down.
This book was truly awful, and it is hard to believe it would have been published if not for the successful authors name attached.
There is no character development at all, in fact the characters are as two dimensional as a photograph. None of the wit and sparkle one gets in the original Austen, but no suspense or drama worth speaking of on the crime writing side either.
If this had been a young writers first attempt, I would have said well done, and maybe in a few years with a lot of work you will amount to something.
To be honest it reads like a set of notes on which one might develop a novel; as if the writer roughly sketched some story ideas, and then could not be bothered to actually turn it into a novel.
Waste your money on it if you want, but I wouldn't bother if I were you.
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150 of 164 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much to expect. 20 Jan 2012
I imagined "Death Comes to Pemberley" was going to be a cosy read for myself and Madame Gersbach to saunter through over Christmas. Here we have an "acclaimed" writer taking the characters from a wonderful Austen novel and playing about with them in a crime story. I didn't expect anything comparable to the real thing in terms of quality of prose or effortless wit but I did expect something light and amusing with an intriguing and entertaining plot.

Oh,how wrong can a poor boy be!

After an amusing and breezy prologue which introduced the main protagonists and filled in the interim between Austen's conclusion and James' commencement, the book hit the buffers.From the start,Darcy and Elizabeth were transformed into a cross between the Oxo Couple (Katy and Phillip?)and the Glums,Darcy having lost most of his haughty confidence and Elizabeth her feisty wit.The Pemberley they are given here had curiously been translated into an early nineteenth century version of "Downton Abbey" where servants held the stage alongside their crushingly boring employers in a way that I can't remember them doing in any of the Austen that I've read.The "crime" element is feeble where it isn't farcical.From time to time,the author also treats us to lectures on various aspects of the society of the time which suggest both a low opinion of the knowledge of her readers and a lack of skill in historical scene-setting.Somehow Austen managed to give us all we need to know about her world without getting out the history books and hitting us over the head with them.

In short,"Death at Pemberley" could most charitably be described as a damp squib.I wanted to like it because I admire P.D.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 14 Jun 2013
By Granty
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a lover of both Jane Austen and P D James, I was looking forward to reading this ebook. I was, however sadly disappointed. It was full of solecisms and anachronistic use of language. Surely a Regency woman, admittedly one who married a few rungs up the social ladder and didn't adjust her outlook, would not be described as "loud mouthed"? Coarse and vulgar would have been more appropriate. Also, shouting being described as hollering? Hallooing, not hollering. Small points perhaps, but irritating to a Jane-ite like me. Instances of people pouring out their hearts to strangers (far too common today but rare then) also annoyed me. This book is not for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars so i am trudging through this but so far finding it dull and boring...
I am not a fan of leaving books unfinished, so i am trudging through this but so far finding it dull and boring and I couldn't care less who the murderer is either. Read more
Published 22 hours ago by Bhanisha
2.0 out of 5 stars I think people who try to write in the vein ...
I think people who try to write in the vein of Austin should leave her characters as she intended them to be and not try to add further dimensions which give them in totally... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Mrs. A.
1.0 out of 5 stars Death Comes to Literature.
I am not even going to bother trying to analyse why this is so bad as it would be a further waste of our lives. Read more
Published 8 days ago by glassophile
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A good read.
Published 12 days ago by BARRY WILSON
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
PD James if definitely a wonderful crime writer. The plots to her stories are superb. I enjoyed this book tremendously and have no doubt, this is five star material. Read more
Published 20 days ago by gary c atkins
3.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable
A nice read, would of been more thrilling if I hadn't watched the TV adaptation first. Recommend as a holiday read
Published 21 days ago by Kirsty
2.0 out of 5 stars Death comes to Pemberley becomes Death to Pemberley
With Pride and Prejudice being one of my all time favourite Jane Austen books and having enjoyed a good few of P.D. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Laura O'Neill
3.0 out of 5 stars Average
Title sounds good, unfortunately couldn't get into book.
So glad when it was made into a television drama so much better
Published 28 days ago by Lady from Aberdeen
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
A brilliant read - great for fans of Jane Austen as it is authentic without trying to be Austen. I would recommend it.
Published 29 days ago by Amy Nichols
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyed very much using my kindle
enjoyed very much using my kindle. Then T.V program left out quite a lot of interesting details .A very good read
Published 1 month ago by Mrs P Stanley
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